Big Adventure, Small Creek

Big Adventure, Small Creek

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

Mists of the morning filtered light rays as we entered the creek. The sight and sound of clear, rushing water was the focus of our attention, but every tree, moss covered rock or flower added to the beauty. But perhaps even more beautiful than all of that, was the colorful glistening shimmer of pink, silver and dark green of rainbow trout or the bright orange-red fins and dots of native brook trout. 

Photo by David Knapp

When leaving the pullout parking area on this busy mountain road, it’s like walking into another dimension. Heavy foliage hides the road, the sound of rushing water filters out traffic noise. It’s like walking through a doorway into another world…of Nature, of magic.

Newfound Gap. Photo by Simone Lipscomb

Higher elevations call when the July fry begins in the mountains. This summer seems hotter than usual here in the Smoky Mountains. Melting hot. Stay-in-air-conditioning hot. Icky hot. 

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

In fly fishing catch-and-release for trout, warmer water is not good. Trout are a cold water species and they thrive in water temperature is between 55 and 65. If a fisher catches and releases a trout in water much above 65 degrees, their recovery time increases and their chance of survival decreases. This also depends on how long they are on line and how quickly a fisher is able to release the fish. Quick landing, quick release, cool water are important pieces of catch-and-release practice for trout.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

I had been looking forward to a guided trip with David Knapp, owner of Trout Zone Anglers, for many months. I chose July because I’m off the entire month from my usual job and thought I’d be doing lots of fly fishing this month. The heat and thunder storms have made that challenging, but on our day of fishing, we had higher elevation temperatures and no lightning. And trout. And beauty. And rocks. And clear water.

David scouting for trout. Photo by Simone Lipscomb

I thought I had fished a small creek before but I found out that small is relative. And what I had thought wasn’t fishable without great difficulty, while looking at the water along Highway 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I discovered was indeed fishable and fun and beautiful. 

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

Like many places in the Smokies, entry and egress points are scattered along the roadway. In between those points are dense rhododendron thickets, nearly impossible to push through, along steep banks, nearly impossible to climb. So going with a guide who knows the area or scouting and marking places on a GPS app is important to safety and peace of mind. In fishing a completely different type of water, it’s important to go with someone who knows the area and can guide through it, not only for safety but for instruction on learning to fish this very different environment.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

When one thinks of fly fishing, those big loops might come to mind…the graceful back cast and forward cast where the dry fly lands like a kiss on the water’s surface. Forget all that in a creek that might be 15 feet wide with heavy vegetation on both sides and overhead. New skills are needed. Thankfully, David is a wonderful teacher so I learned two new casts and techniques that broadened my skill set. From reading the water, to a modified bow-and-arrow cast, I came away with new tools, but more importantly I came away with memories of cascading water, flowers, trout and wading cool water in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

On a small, mountain stream at high elevation, the mundane fades away and the mystical realm of mists, rocks, rushing water take over the senses. Trout become the teachers and jesters, the humbling masters. We’re lucky just to have a few hours to be in their presence.

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Featured image of Simone by David Knapp. Check out Trout Zone Anglers for more information on booking David and the guides that work with him. The level of learning and fun is a perfect balance.

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